While out shopping recently with my husband we were chatting to the owner of the shop - a friend of my husband's - and my new job came up.

To my surprise, within seconds a bitter tirade about the Department of Consumer Affairs ensued.

The owner occasionally has customers who, when they experience buyers' remorse on a specially ordered product, will demand a refund and argue that someone at Consumer Affairs supports their claim.

There are some consumers who will misrepresent the truth in order to receive their desired outcome by using the name of Consumer Affairs or impersonating a Consumer Affairs enforcement officer to intimidate a business into giving a refund.

Doing so is punishable under the Consumer Protection Act 1999, and people caught doing this are liable to face a fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for six months.

Unfortunately, it's not the first time we've heard of customers calling up businesses and using our name in order to support their claims.

Following store policy

Just last week we heard from a storeowner who called us to check if we had told a customer she could return an item she wore out of the store - against explicit store policy.

The truth is customers cannot demand a refund just because they changed their mind if the store policy states otherwise, and no, we had not advised anyone differently.

Most consumer transactions fall under The Sale of Goods Act 1978 (as amended in 2002) and the Supply of Services (Implied Terms) Act 2003.

Primarily, the Sales of Goods Act governs whether the goods conform to the terms of a contract, such as satisfactory quality, the products are as described, fit for the purposes for which goods of the kind are supplied, free from defects and safe.

The Supply of Services Act states that services are to be carried out with reasonable care and skill in reasonable time and for a reasonable price.

There are a few more caveats, but as a general rule, if you change your mind after the fact it's unlikely you will be entitled to a refund if the store policy prohibits it.

The onus is on the consumer to read the store's policies on warranties, refunds and returns before purchasing a good or service, and for ensuring that the product or service they are ordering is correct before paying.

Before a customer can file a complaint with Consumer Affairs, they must inform the retailer or service provider of the problem and try to come to a solution.

No one can file a complaint erroneously as personal details are required before a case will even be considered by the enforcement officers.

When a case is filed, the enforcement officer will contact the retailer or service provider to get their side of the case being presented.

It is the mandate of Consumer Affairs to protect the rights and enforce the responsibilities of both consumers AND retailers.

If a consumer alleges that they have received advice from Consumer Affairs, it is in the best interest of the store owner to ask the consumer with whom they spoke to, and contact Consumer Affairs immediately for confirmation.

Laura Semos is an education officer at the Department of Consumer Affairs.